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Shouldless days

Should is a dumb word. There I said it. I've made it a habit that whenever I think to myself 'Oh, I really should..." I stop and ask, "According to whom?"

If the answer is 'me', I think, "well do I want to do this thing?" If yes, then there's my answer - it's not that I should, it's that I want to.

If it's someone else, do I value their opinion? If yes, cool - I'm doing it because I think they're right and it's a good idea.

If it's some random person on the internet and I feel guilty... Nope that's not a good enough reason. Thanks, no thanks, bye.

My thinking around 'should' really shifted in 2017, after listening to an episode of podcast Death Sex and Money with Ellen Burstyn. In this episode they talked about “should-less” days. Having designated days where there are no ‘shoulds’. Instead you do what you want to do, everything else be damned.

As a parent with a toddler, the concept of a shouldless day sounds as simultaneously blissful and unattainable as a complimentary unicorn ride around a chocolate factory.

Sometimes an entire day free of ‘should’ isn’t possible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t entertain the concept. Finding small ways to live in the spirit of shouldless can be just as powerful.

Doing things out of guilt robs us of joy. Not only that, it also makes banal tasks so much more unpleasant. When we ditch the ‘should’, mundane tasks can become joyous in their own right. E.g. Choosing to eat a salad because we love how it makes us feel and not because we really "should” be healthy. It’s all about re-framing and cutting out those pesky shoulds and focusing on what we actually want.

Everyone (women in particular, and mothers most of all) benefits by hitting pause on the hamster wheel of obligation that many of us have spinning in our heads 24/7.

When we free ourselves from obligation - even if momentary and fleeting, it makes all the other stuff seem more doable. It’s easy to forget how much our 'shoulds' weigh down on us. Relieving ourselves of them is like taking a long, deep breath after breaking the surface of a swimming pool.

When we give ourselves the room to stop and breathe, we notice that too much 'should' clouds the good.

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